Sunday, February 22, 2009

Independent Grocer Memo: Northern California Independent Ben Lomond Market Creates Job For 90-Year Old Man Scammed Out of $738,000 By Bernie Maddoff

From near-millionaire to $10 an hour, 30 hour per-week grocery store greeter: Ian Thiermann, who's motto is "You do what you have to do," at work in the Ben Lomond Market in Ben Lomond, California. [Photo Credit: KPIX Channel 5, San Francisco.]

Independent Food & Grocery Retailing USA - Independent Spirit

Ian Thiermann, a 90-year old retired businessman from Ben Lomond, California, a small town near the city of Santa Cruz on Northern California's coast, says he lost his entire life savings, $738,000, to the Wall Street financier and Ponzi Scheme crook Bernard Maddoff. The $738,000 was what Mr. Thiermann had saved and invested throughout his working life for his retirement.

As a result of losing it all, Ian Theirmann decided the only think he could do was to return to work at age 90, he told San Francisco-based KPIX, Channel 5 television for a recent report the station did about the Ben Lomond resident.

However, with the current job availability situation so poor, along with the fact he is 90-years of age, Ian Thiermann wasn't completely confident he could find a job in the small, coastal Northern California city where he lives.

But a local independent grocer, Ben Lomond Market, heard about Mr. Thiermann's plight and offered him a 30 hour a week job at $10 an hour as the store customer greeter, a position they created especially for the energetic and sociable 90-year old."This is not a woe is me kind of man.

This is a community coming together and helping each other out in times of need," Barbara Loffer of Ben Lomond Market told KPIX.In explaining his plight and decision to return to the work force as the official customer greeter at Ben Lomond Market, Ian Thiermann told KPIX reporter Kiet Do: "You meet a situation like this, what are you gonna do, fold up? Instead of crying, yelling or being mad about it, face it and move on."

That simple sentence and overall attitude from Mr. Thiermann, a man who at age 90 lost every cent he had saved throughout his working life and as a result did what he had to, which is to go back at work, is something we should all keep in mind as we struggle in the current bad economy.

Times are tough without a doubt -- but like Ian Thiermann, who was born in 1919 and has lived through wars and the Great Depression -- and survived -- says: "You meet a situation like this, what are you gonna do, fold up? Instead of crying, yelling or being mad about it, face it and move on."

That's a motto, and attitude, we all should follow. It's also the attitude that will get the country out of the current economic recession and malaise.[

[You can read the report from KPIX Channel 5 here.]

[You can view video of Ian Thiermann at the Ben Lomond Market at the link below:]

Independent grocer Ben Lomond Market demonstrates what we often say about America's independent grocers -- that they survive and thrive in the U.S. food and grocery retailing sector in large part because they focus on being an integral part of the communities where they operate their stores. They focus on the local -- local customers, products and issues. We call that the independent (grocer) spirit.

The independent supermarket, which in addition to selling basic food and grocery products specializes in merchandising lots of specialty, natural and organic food and grocery items, along with high-quality fresh, prepared foods, also demonstrates that the community focus we describe and write about America's independent grocers extends far beyond only selling groceries -- it's all about community and neighborhood in most cases. And that generally translates into increased business.

We wish Mr. Thiermann all the best in his new job. And we think he will be a great asset to the market, its owners, and its customers.

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